Route 66 Caravan

America's Biggest Road Trip!

Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
June 06, 2003

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Baxter Springs, Kansas

Battle of Baxter Springs

The Route 66 Caravan has five states down and now we've entered our sixth state. Kansas has the smallest section of the Mother Road, only 13.2 miles to be exact, but pound for pound it packs more Route 66 into those few miles. This is a quality road experience here. Coming from Miami, Oklahoma we crossed the state line and entered Baxter Springs. This is an old town, founded before the Civil war in the 1850s along the Military Road. In fact, this old town is the site of Fort Blair and the Battle of Baxter Springs. On October 6, 1863 Quantrill attacked Ft. Blair in an unsuccessful raid. Having been repulsed by the Union Troops at the fort Quantrill's raiders ambushed an approaching military wagon train led by General Blunt. General Blunt and his command were caught totally by surprise, as they had no knowledge of the earlier attack on Fort Blair. After the attack, in violation of the rules of war, Quantrill called for the surrender of Blair's troops and shot them dead when they did. This was a massacre.


Story of Baxter Springs Kansas
This ceramic tile pane on Baxter Springs American Bank celebrates Baxter's history.

Following the Civil War, Baxter Springs became known far and wide as one of the wildest cowtowns of the west. Cattle drovers found Baxter Springs a welcome break after months on the dusty trail. The numerous saloons and palaces of diversion provided all the amenities a poor cowboy could use. Baxter Springs became known as the "First Cowtown in Kansas." This was a wild town in the old days. In fact I don’t know of any other town that had more of its banks robbed than Baxter Springs! Seemed to me that every historical plaque on each bank building had the dates it was robbed. When I went to the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Historical Museum I had to ask, in all seriousness I might add, if there were any banks in town that WEREN’T robbed!

Around the turn of the Twentieth Century deposits of lead and zinc were discovered in the area. It was soon obvious that these mines would provide the economic base for Baxter Springs and towns like it in the area.

Baxter Store


Classic Phillips 66 Sign

In 1926 Route 66 came through the town providing a new source of revenue – the tourist industry. Gas, auto supplies, eateries and motor courts became the order of the day.


This old cottage style Phillips Filling Station along Route 66 in Baxter Springs has an attached garage. It was run by Burl Chubb in the 1940s and 1950s.


Phillips Station

Cafe on the Route with the Caravan The building that the Cafe on the Route is in is quite historical. It was built in the 1870s during the height of Baxter Springs cowtown days. It was the Crowell Bank and yes ... none other than Jesse James himself robbed it in 1876!


Cafe on the Route Ceremony

Baxter Cafe on the Route

The Cafe on the Route and the Little Brick Inn, located upstairs, opened in May 1998 and has been serving fine food to travelers and residents alike in Baxter Springs.


Baxter Springs Mayor Art Roberts, Chamber of Commerce President Carolyn Pendleton, the Sanells and Jim dedicate the new Roadside Attraction sign.

Cafe on the Route Ceremony


Amy & Richard
Little Richard the III, Amy and Chef Richard the II Sanell put Baxter Springs on the map.

Hampton felt that this historical building was a site worth seeing. Yes it may be worth seeing but I definitely think it is another Route 66 site worth eating at! Chef Richard Sanell has some unique and mighty tasty dishes. How about some fried potato salad ~ it's good!


Cafe on the Route Roadside Attraction


Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

A few miles east of Baxter Springs on the way to Riverton, Kansas you will find this classy historic Marsh Arch "Rainbow Bridge" on the old alignment of Route 66.


Through the efforts of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association this historic bridge was saved in 1992. Not only does this bridge make great photo opportunities, but you can drive over it!

Caravan on the Rainbow Bridge 


Eisler Brothers in Riverton

  Eisler Brothers

The Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store is a Route 66 icon that has been going strong since 1925. Today it serves sandwiches, sodas and a whole bunch of Route 66 souvenirs.


West 66
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Go West down the Mother Road

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Galena, Kansas
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